You Think You Want A Logo. What You Need Is A Legacy.

Whether you’re rebranding or creating an all-new brand, your logo is probably top priority. Here’s why (and how) you should think bigger. (Featuring: SHAUN AUSTIN GORDON and KISS)


Do you ever feel that your photography isn’t reaching the right audience? Or that your brand isn’t quite aligned with your creative vision?

Photographer-turned-album-maker Shaun Austin Gordon has been on a branding journey much like this – and he’s finally reached a destination that feels like home.

You Think You Want A Logo. What You Need Is A Legacy. Kiss Founder Shaun Austin Gordon
KISS Co-founder SHAUN AUSTIN GORDON With A Series of His Company’s Books

Shaun is the co-founder of Kiss Books, one of (if not the) first album company to emphasize modern, minimalist photo books with a streamlined workflow.

“A decade ago, albums were mostly the old-school, slide-in, matted style. When we launched Kiss, we were the world’s simplest book company. We made it easy.”

– Shaun Austin Gordan

As Kiss grew, however, so did the photography industry. The album market, in particular, quickly evolved beyond the original Kiss logo and look.

You Think You Want A Logo. What You Need Is A Legacy.
KISS Books For Professional Photographers

Shaun and his team were passionate about what they were making, but neither passion nor purpose were being communicated through the Kiss website. The brand felt stale and distant, and the entire Kiss crew believed it had to change.

Getting there was another matter.

Here’s how they did it. (And how you can do it, too.)


Old Logo, Old Look, Old Brand

You’ve probably heard the marketing wisdom, “People buy two things: solutions to problems and good feelings.” As happens with so many companies who try grow by appealing to everyone, the first two iterations of Kiss’ branding were so generically appealing, they weren’t truly impacting anyone. Not with life-altering solutions or soul-stirring feelings.

You Think You Want A Logo. What You Need Is A Legacy. The Original Kiss Books Branding, Versions 1 & 2
KISS Brand Visuals Before Their 2017 Rebrand

With one rebrand already under their belt, the Kiss team was ready to tackle this rebrand with a fresh approach.

For Shaun, the purpose was clear:

“Our ideal client is the goal.”

– Shaun Austin Gordan


Know Your Type

What Shaun wanted for this rebrand was connection: connection between photographers and Kiss books, and connection between photographers and the heart of the company itself.

You Think You Want A Logo. What You Need Is A Legacy. Kiss Books
KISS Books For Professional Photographers

“There’s a heart that beats within every company. It’s in the product or the photograph or the experience. When someone chooses me as their photographer, or chooses Kiss as their book maker, I want it to be for a bigger reason than just my pictures or my product.”

– Shaun Austin Gordan


You Think You Want A Logo. What You Need Is A Legacy. Linen Kiss Book with Case
KISS Books For Professional Photographers

Marketing A Product Vs. Marketing A Vision

Kiss began their rebranding journey with a brutally honest assessment of his what and who.

  • What problems am I solving? What feelings am I imparting?
  • Whose problems am I solving? Whose feelings am I impacting?

The what was Kiss’ books and brand. The who was Kiss’ clients. If they solved the right problems and invoked the right feelings with their rebrand, the who would be their ideal clients.

Shaun wanted to quit trying to build a product for all the people, and instead focus on a vision for Kiss people.

“Product marketing is a strategy that targets everyone, but delivers mediocre results. Vision marketing is different. Marketing to the person who wants to be part of our vision is a lot easier than trying to market to everybody.”

– Shaun Austin Gordan


You Think You Want A Logo. What You Need Is A Legacy.
KISS Books For Professional Photographers

The Vision: “Pursue Simple”

To connect with more of their “people,” Kiss had to communicate their vision. But to communicate their vision, they had to know their vision.

The Kiss team sat down with their photography community for some off-site creative brainstorming. Their conversations quickly turned to what they – as individuals – most valued.

“We all wanted a lifestyle that’s as simple as possible. As we unpacked that, somebody came up with the phrase, Pursue Simple. I was in love with that phrase, because that’s what we believe in.

“Pursue Simple is about having enough margin, vision, and purpose in your life to focus on the next thing.”

– Shaun Austin Gordan

You Think You Want A Logo. What You Need Is A Legacy. The New Kiss Books Logo
The New KISS Logo After Their 2017 Rebrand


GET SMART: “Priority”

In the 1400s, the word priority was a singular noun. You could only have one priority. Since then, we’ve expanded its meaning to allows multiple priorities. With Kiss’ Pursue Simple mentality, you can return to having one priority at a time. Simply do the next thing. And then the next.


You Think You Want A Logo. What You Need Is A Legacy.
KISS Books For Professional Photographers

A Data-Informed Rebrand

From the beginning, Kiss books had been designed with simplicity in mind. The vision had always been there. A brand communicating that vision to Kiss customers had not. 

To further complicate the process, Kiss customers looked very different from the photographers of 10 years before.

“When we started Kiss, our clients were about 50/50 women and men. Now 70% or more are women. And I started looking at our website thinking, ‘We look like a tech company owned by guys.'”

– Shaun Austin Gordan


PRO TIP: A Data-Driven Business

Kiss’ product sales proved the shift in the market. The most popular album cover fabrics are one piece of that picture. Over the course of three years, Kiss watched their most popular cover material – black leather, get usurped first by one linen, then two:

  • 2015: #1 – Black Leather
  • 2016: #1 – Linen | #2 – Black Leather
  • 2017: #1 – Linen | #2 – Other Linen | #3 – Black Leather

You Think You Want A Logo. What You Need Is A Legacy. Colorful Linen Kiss Books
KISS Books For Professional Photographers

If You Don’t Build It, They Can’t Come

The sales shift was only possible because Kiss listened to their clients.

Their photographers began requesting an expanded line of cover options – different fabrics, fresh colors. The team was surprised. Ninety per cent of Kiss’ book sales were for 10×10 black leather books.

Shaun worried, “Are we going to do all this work, add new colors, then still send out 90% of our book orders in black leather?”

But his fears were unfounded.

You Think You Want A Logo. What You Need Is A Legacy. Kiss Books
KISS Books For Professional Photographers

“As soon as we introduced the new colors, our workshop was transformed from ‘black leather album company’ to these beautiful colors that actually matched what was happening in the industry. Photographers were picking colors to go with their brands. Everything going out the door was so unique and different.

– Shaun Austin Gordan

That was where the shift happened – where the Kiss team realized they needed to overhaul their entire brand. Everything needed to change: the website, the logo, and the way they communicated their with their customers.

You Think You Want A Logo. What You Need Is A Legacy. Kiss Books Website.
The New KISS Website After Their 2017 Rebrand


Rolling Out the Rebrand

Now Kiss book buyers tell Shaun, “I love your books, and I love being on your website!”

These are the ideal clients Shaun envisioned when he and the Kiss team began their rebranding journey: photographers who believe the work isn’t done until it’s been printed.

“We’re focused on handcrafting beautiful books, and creating a clean workspace where photographers can thrive. This is the heart of Kiss.”

– Shaun Austin Gordan

Finally, Kiss has a brand that tells that story.

You Think You Want A Logo. What You Need Is A Legacy. Holding A Blue Linen Kiss Book
KISS Books For Professional Photographers


Focus On What Matters Most

“Whatever matters most to you – photography, yoga, cooking, or Crossfit – you need the tools that will create enough margin for you to go and do that thing well.” 

– Shaun Austin Gordan

On the wall at ShootProof, you’ll read: “Focus On What Matters Most.” Pair this with the Kiss theme, “Pursue Simple,” and you’ve tapped into a new definition of success.

Maybe you – like so many others – are no longer satisfied to simply start a business and earn a few bucks. You want to make something that matters, and build strong connections with your clients.

It’s time to say no to another mediocre logo.

Go ahead. Think bigger.

Leave a legacy.


Written by ANNE SIMONE | Interview with SHAUN AUSTIN GORDON | Photographs courtesy of KISS


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